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Disaster Planning
Old 11-05-2012, 02:45 AM   #1
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Disaster Planning

With Sandy having taken a terrible human and property toll along the east coast I'm sure many are wondering what are the some of the best ways to prepare for and deal with a disaster BEFORE it strikes, be it rain, snow storm, hurricane, tornado, extremes of heat etc.

For those with personal experience, please give us some insight ( retrospectively), as to how we should prepare, eg., food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, security, transportation, health, finances.

Thanks
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Old 11-05-2012, 05:40 AM   #2
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Here is a FEMA guide titled "Are You Ready?" http://www.fema.gov/library/file?typ...7-000bdba87d5b I haven't read it and it is pretty long, but looking over the table of contents, it also is thorough, and covers a very broad range of potential disasters.
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Old 11-05-2012, 07:52 AM   #3
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Here are a few things I've learned from the past few storms where I've gone without electricity and running water for nearly a week:

Fill jugs of water for drinking.
Fill bath tub and washing machine with water.
Have food on hand that does not need freezing/refrigeration

Turn up the thermostat to warm the house up before you loose power (if cold weather predicted)

Adjust fridge & freezer to coldest settings to give it a head start when power goes out.

If there is any empty space in your freezer, fill that space with jugs of water. This will help keep your freezer cold. (This is a good thing to do even when a disaster is not pending).

Cook a lot of food from the freezer and package as meal size portions in the fridge (homemade TV dinners). If power goes out and you have a generator, you can microwave these for a really quick hot meal. Also, I figure that cooked meats are less likely to spoil than raw meats (although I'm not positive about that).

Depending on your situation, a gas grill and a full propane tank might be handy for cooking.

Have a generator in good working order.
Have plenty of fuel on hand for your generator!!!

Keep trees trimmed away from power lines to your house so that nothing can fall on the lines and take them down. This should be an ongoing concern as you maintain your yard and landscaping. Also make sure that a utility truck can easily get to any poles or wires on your property. This was a problem I had, and didn't realize it until I lost power a few years ago and the utility guys had a very hard time reaching a telephone pole to restring some wires. Since then I've had some trees removed to fix that problem.

For my leaky basement and sump pump: I bought a hand powered bilge pump (Amazon.com: Seasense Hand Bilge Pump Hose: Sports & Outdoors) and ran a hose from that out a basement window. This is a backup backup plan - if power is out and I can't use the generator for some reason, I can pump water out of the basement by hand. I've had to use this a couple of times and it works pretty well. And, it's good exercise!

Have plenty of good reading material on hand, and a light to read by - I like the little LED lights that clip onto your book - I did a lot of reading that way during Sandy. Make sure you have enough batteries too.

Recharge all devices and rechargeable batteries before the storm.

Make sure you have a car charger for your phone and other rechargeable devices.

This is personal preference but I got a short haircut before Sandy. If my personal hygiene is... ummm... lacking during an extended power outage, I feel more comfortable with shorter hair.
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:24 AM   #4
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Here's one I leared this last go round that worked well. Fill Ziplock quart sized freezer bags with water and put them in the freezer. Don't fill them too full. They form nice ice blocks to keep things cold and when they thaw, they can be used as potable water.
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:39 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by JoeDreaming View Post
If there is any empty space in your freezer, fill that space with jugs of water. This will help keep your freezer cold. (This is a good thing to do even when a disaster is not pending).
One caution on that one. You need to do it far ahead enough so that the jugs have time to freeze solid. Otherwise, they will still be absorbing a lot of energy from the freezer to get through that phase change. Big jugs can sometimes take well over 24 hours to freeze. Esp if you have added a lot of them.

-ERD50
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:44 AM   #6
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We use a couple of coolers to store some food and liquids that can carry us through the first day or so of no electricity, to delay opening the refrigerator as long as possible.
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Old 11-05-2012, 09:08 AM   #7
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Having a full tank of gas in the car(s) can be very helpful. With no power, even if gas stations have gas they cannot pump it. If you need to evacuate or just move around to find a better place to stay in the aftermath, you may need to be able to drive.
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Old 11-05-2012, 09:23 AM   #8
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During last year's "Halloween snow storm", we were without electric for 3.5 days.

Last week, we were without electric for just under 11 hours, over two outages; yes, we were lucky .

Last year I purchased a portable gas generator (5500 kva/8500 kva startup). I did not use it this time, since it could not be used in the rain, and I would not use it in the garage (four deaths so far in our area for folks using a generator in an attached garage - even with the doors open, over the last two weeks).

If would have stopped raining and we had yet to have electric, I certainly would have used it (I had the extra gas and electric cords to do so).

However, I've given up. I made a call to a local whole house generator contractor (just a few blocks away) to give me a quote, after his "emergency calls" quiet down.

I've made the commitment to go with a whole house backup, but I'm not willing to pay a premium for the current conditions. I'm sure he will be looking for installations in the future (within the next six months) when things are more quiet.

I've spec'ed it out on my own (the contractor to confirm), but the unit - along with the LP tank (since I don't have LNG access) should run $7-8K.

As I see it, the U.S. electric infrastructure will get worse as we go on. We're working on power/distribution systems that average more than a half-century old, and it looks like very little will be done in the immediate future to correct the overall generation and delivery of electricity.

Yes, it's costing me much more to go this route, but I rather go this direction than count on others to ensure I/DW have electric in the future, in our all electric retirement home.

Just our situation, as to the OPís inquiry.
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Old 11-05-2012, 09:41 AM   #9
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I hate to say this, but based on what I know to be going on in central NJ, Long Island and parts of Queens, any disaster preparedness plan should have some consideration of how to deal with looters. We are a week from Sandy's hit and looting has been going on for days in some places, in many cases with local law enforcement spread thin or even non-existent.
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Old 11-05-2012, 09:58 AM   #10
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We keep a year's supply of food in our "cold storage". All food in the freezer will get cooked and eaten. We don't store water because we have 2 huge water heaters that can be drained if water is needed (turn off main). We also have things like candles, spare batteries, etc.

We have an AK47 (Christmas gift from my FIL a couple years ago) with a couple thousand rounds. And some ancillary .45's.
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:02 AM   #11
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I try to keep a couple hundred in cash in the safe (in small bills).
Portable gas cans filled and treated with gas stabilizer.
Genny ready and maintained.
Plenty of firearms and ammo for protection.
If there is advance notice I usually fill up the tank in the car or truck.
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:04 AM   #12
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Costco sells 55 gallon water storage barrels inexpensively (hundred bucks with shipping or thereabouts). They come with a hand pump and a stabilizer that will supposedly keep the water potable for 5 years. We have one sitting in the basement just in case. We also have a hiker-type katadyn water filter. Of course, given advance warning we would also fill containers (including empty kegs and brewpots) with water.
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:08 AM   #13
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Wouldn't it be better to have those kegs and brewpots filled with the liquid they are intended for?

Compared to other areas of the country, we only have the heat to worry about here. If we have a black-out in the summer, that will cause a lot of misery. Some sick and elderly people may be at risk, but most people will find a way to cope. Here, many houses have an in-ground swimming pool, and I can see people staying in the pool till they turn into a prune.

Regarding backup generators, unless one has a nat gas line to feed a whole house generator, the problem is in feeding the beast if power is out for a longer time, like a week or two. I only have the 4KW genny that is built into my motorhome, but it is a thirsty beast also. I have been thinking about getting a smaller portable unit, just to run the refrigerators and some lights and fans as needed, and even then not over 24 hours a day non-stop. The problem is the space to store it. My garage is full!
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Old 11-05-2012, 11:23 AM   #14
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For those with personal experience, please give us some insight ( retrospectively), as to how we should prepare, eg., food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, security, transportation, health, finances.
Well, I guess that's me.

Most disasters are local or regional. So, IMO your first line of defense is to have a full tank of gas and cash in your wallet so that you can get out of the affected region.

Even if you stay, with no electricity or sewage or debris pickup or gasoline or water or phone or mail or internet or food, most likely you will be ready to leave in a few days. Many who stayed through Katrina left afterwards for a while.

Keep a list of things you can fit in your car and would want to have with you in an evacuation - - important papers, insurance documents, photos, and so on. You can find a multitude of lists like this by doing a search on the internet, so most of my comments will relate to things that aren't on these lists. There are also lists of what to have in the house if you stay, such as water, canned food, can opener, and so on. If you have any early indication of an impending disaster, as with a hurricane, you can assemble the items on your list and be ready to leave. Also you should wash all of your clothes, since you won't be able to operate the washer later with no electricity or water.

If you don't leave, or when you return, all the money in the world will not help you to find anybody to assist you in repairing damage right away because those who are still in the area are all busy repairing damage to their own homes. We found a chain saw to be very handy in cutting up trees. Bleach can be helpful for disinfecting.

Go to the gym and stay strong and fit. After a hurricane, you will probably be lifting and dragging huge quantities of debris, even including whole trees branch by branch, from the street and from your lot. Also you will need to personally haul away all of your trash, garbage, and storm debris (to the dump) that you don't want sitting in front of your house for the next few months.

As for finances, remember that it may take months for postal service to return, as it did for us. I was pretty happy with the fact that I didn't have to pay bills that I wasn't getting, due to having all my bills on automatic bank deductions. The one exception was Cox Cable, which gave us a break on the first bill due to lines being down, and then brilliantly decided that it was unfair to continue automatic deductions when they didn't know if we were getting service or not. But I didn't want my internet and TV service discontinued, once it was back on. So, once their offices were open again I had to drive over there to pay until I could get that re-established.

There will be many others who crack and fall apart with all the stress and misery, so if you tend to resemble the empath Deanna Troy in your interactions with people, you will be tremendously needed. But I warn you, you must be prepared for the infinite quantity of horror you may encounter every time you leave the house. People can't help it - - they need to talk, there is nobody to listen, and the stories come spilling out from complete strangers, each worse than the last. Just listen and care, even if you can do nothing else. Hard work is plentiful and helps one to keep dealing with this emotional onslaught, so do what you can to help others, listen if you can do nothing else, and work hard at the cleanup when you get home to help you deal with it.

THE VERY MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR DEALING WITH A DISASTER - - is a calm, rational, patient, compassionate, sane, flexible and inventive mind. Every disaster is different and you can't prepare for everything, or deal with each of them the same way. Americans pride ourselves on our ingenuity and you will need yours to the max after a disaster. I can't emphasize this enough.
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Old 11-05-2012, 11:37 AM   #15
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Costco sells ...
What's a Cosco ?

On my map, the nearest is over 60 miles away!
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Old 11-05-2012, 11:42 AM   #16
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Note the advice given on the west coast about earthquakes, don't expect any aid for 3 days. This was also demonstrated in Sandy, if you have at least enough to live 3 days then after the disaster is over the services will start arriving in 3 days (interestingly for Staten Island it was the 3rd day, with Katrina it was 4) Of course another longer term point is when looking at where to live consider disasters in particular flooding both fresh and salt water all over the country, include wild fire in the west. One can find the 100 year flood height and where a particular property is with respect to this. (IMHO one wants to be a few feet above the 100 year level to raise to to s .1% chance, which would be called the 1000 year flood plain)
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Old 11-05-2012, 11:58 AM   #17
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What's a Cosco ?

On my map, the nearest is over 60 miles away!
I ordered mine mail order, actually. Other places sell the same thing at a higher price.
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Old 11-05-2012, 11:59 AM   #18
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Note the advice given on the west coast about earthquakes, don't expect any aid for 3 days. This was also demonstrated in Sandy, if you have at least enough to live 3 days then after the disaster is over the services will start arriving in 3 days (interestingly for Staten Island it was the 3rd day, with Katrina it was 4)
(emphasis mine). Notice START arriving. I was here four days after Katrina. We had military here by that time, rescuing people from rooftops and such, but not much else. The water hadn't even receded. The area looked like an armed camp with helicopters overhead, military checkpoints on the ground all over restricting vehicular flow, and almost nobody on the streets other than a huge quantity of military and a few members of the press. At that stage they were using a nearby cemetary as a staging ground, and local authorities were organizing the launching of citizen rescue boats from the flooded SAMS parking lot just down the street from me as New Orleanians helped rescue our neighbors. I can't give the military enough credit - - they and our local citizenry were the heroes here.
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:45 PM   #19
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Sam's has propane-powered generators:

Gentron 6000 Watt Propane Generator with Electric Start - Sam's Club

I keep three tanks around for the grill anyway, and it seems somewhat safer than keeping gasoline around...
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:45 PM   #20
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Wouldn't it be better to have those kegs and brewpots filled with the liquid they are intended for?
Mine are.
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